I was 12 years old when I saw the movie “The Changeling”. True to its title, it altered some metaphysical part of my being. I was a relatively normal child, as normal as kids could be in the 70’s and 80’s, but I still remember my reaction to that movie and the subsequent “change” that happened in me. I knew from the moment that story ended that I would never be the same. I didn’t sleep in my own bed for at least three days, and I vowed I would never play with that same tri-coloured rubber ball again. To this day, it still haunts me to see the Pepsi emblem. It reminds me of the horror I felt watching those scenes of a bouncing ball take on a life of its own and subject George C. Scott to interminable terror.
If I were a recurring patient at a psychiatrist’s office (which I am not), I undoubtedly would be told that the reason I prefer a shower to a bath was a direct result of Russell Hunter’s tale of a haunted house and the fury that a spirit could unleash on living, breathing human beings. If I pause for a moment to put myself back into that mind space, I can still hear that young, disabled boy beating on the sides of that claw-footed bathtub as he was drowned by his father.
This is the feeling that a good horror movie is meant to elicit from its viewers. That lingering terror, although irrational, invades the deepest reaches of our psyche and makes us second guess relatively commonplace parts of our existence. Human beings, by nature, are fundamentally flawed, and we seek the terror in the shadows. The horror genre only adds fuel to that fire.
Although Carol Kane starred in “When A Stranger Calls” in 1979, I did not see that movie until years after I had moved on from The Changeling. Regrettably, for me, I watched that madness on a big screen during my tenable years as a babysitter!! I took my role as guardian very seriously, but nearly jumped out of my skin each time the phone rang while the children I had sworn to protect were in the next room.
As the years have unfolded, I have been able to detach the parallels of movie horrors from my own perception of reality. Although my current basement resembles something akin to the “Red Room” in the Amityville Horror, I nonetheless regard the creativity of the horror film genre as it is mean to be portrayed. It is nothing more than scary entertainment.
I do believe in spirits, but I am not going to be consumed by the notion that they hold any ill will towards me, nor are they bent on doing me bodily harm. There are no ghost writings on my walls, nor do I hear evil voices or things that go bump in the night (except the squirrels in my attic). The only admission I will make is that I will NEVER have a Ouija board in my house – EVER. Even though I don’t believe I will come to any harm from spirits lingering in between worlds, I am not going to entertain the chance that I open a portal and tempt a forbidden soul with the vestigial energy contained in that board. (Watch the movie Witchboard and you’ll understand my paranoia)
What movies left a lingering impression on you when you were young and vulnerable?